This page outlines my perception of the main differences between the games of Crown Green bowls and Lawn / Flat Green bowls. It is not exhaustive, or a substitute for swotting up on the relevant Laws, but hopefully will indicate the flavour of each of the codes of bowling. The weights and measurements here are guides, reference to the relevant Laws or Rules should be made for current figures. Those measurements not shown as metric are Imperial.
In both codes of the game, the aim is to play the bowls so that they are nearer to the jack than those of the opposition. Normally all players deliver their bowls alternately except that in Crown where doubles or pairs are being played, one player from each side will deliver all their bowls alternately followed by the other two players delivering their bowls alternately.
A player will count as many points as that player has bowls nearer to the jack than any of the opposing bowls when that end is completed. The first player to reach a pre-determined score (usually twenty-one points), or has the most points if the games are over a fixed number of ends, will be the winner.
One of the main differences between the codes is that Crown Green ends are played in any direction on the green whereas in Flat Green, ends are played in alternate directions along a rink.
Brief details of other differences are given in the sections below, for the nitty-gritty details please refer to the relevant Laws of either game.
If there is anything wildly inaccurate on this page, I'm sure someone will let me know. (5th May 2007 - D.Sanderson)
No stipulated shape or profile, but usually rectangular with sides of 40 yards, the playing surface rising to a 'crown' somewhere near the centre of the green, being on average between 9 inches and 15 inches above the edges of the green. The playing area of the green is bordered by a channel which has no specified dimensions.
Rectangular with sides not less than 37 metres or more than 40 metres, and is intended to have as level a playing surface as possible. The surrounding ditch to be a minimum width of 200 millimetres, maximum 380 millimetres; and a minimum depth of 50 millimetres, maximum 200 millimetres. The bank behind the ditch to be a minimum of 230 millimetres above the surface of the green.
The green is divided into rinks with a minimum width of 5.5 metres, maximum 5.8 metres; the centre line of each rink being marked by pegs on the bank at each end, the four corners of a rink being marked by white pegs on the bank. Variations of the green size and rink width are allowed according to type of competition.
The 'footer' is circular with a diameter of not less than 128 millimetres (5 inches), and not more than 154 millimetres (6 inches). A player about to play the Jack or a bowl must have a foot on the footer and bowl with the same hand, for example, with right foot on footer must play Jack or bowl with right hand (players suffering disability of a limb excepted).
The 'mat' is rectangular with dimensions 600 millimetres long and 360 millimetres wide. At the moment of delivery of either Jack or bowl, the player's foot must be within the confines of the mat, either in contact with, or above, the mat.
Jacks manufactured after 1st.January 2004 have a bias of 2 Full, weight of 666 grammes plus or minus 10 grammes; width to be 90.5 millimetres plus or minus 0.5 millimetres; height to be 98 millimetres plus or minus 0.5 millimetres; and be either black or yellow.
The full specification of a 'Standard Jack' is given in Appendix A to the Laws of Crown Green Bowling, published in the current issue of the B.C.G.B.A. handbook.
The Jack is spherical (no bias), either white or yellow, minimum diameter of 63 millimetres, maximum 64 millimetres; minimum weight of 225 grammes, maximum 285 grammes.
Jacks for synthetic outdoor or indoor surfaces have a minimum diameter of 63 millimetres, maximum 67 millimetres; with a minimum weight of 382 grammes, maximum 453 grammes.
The bias of a bowl, and jack in the case of Crown Green, is brought about by careful shaping of the bowl or jack to be slightly ovoid. It is generally accepted that on a relatively flat surface, the bias only affects the running over the last one-third of its travel so that it then begins to arc in the direction of the bias.
In Crown green, the effect of the bias is less when played against the slope of the green, and accentuated when slope and bias are working together.
As an aside, and assuming a right-handed player, if the bias is to the left when the bowl is played then this is known as finger bias in Crown, forehand in Flat. Bias to the right, thumb in Crown, backhand in Flat.
Apart from a stipulated minimum weight of 2 pounds (unless medical evidence of a wasting disease of bone or muscle can be shown), and the bias being not adjustable, there are no other criteria.
The usual weight range used is 2 pounds 4 ounces up to 2 pounds 14 ounces, the bias tends to be 2 Full (to match a Standard Jack) but not necessarily so, with each player having two bowls.
Each player has a matched set of four bowls which for competition matches at the higher levels need to comply with the relevant specifications to be found in the Laws. In general terms flat green bowls tend to be heavier, and stronger in bias (again non-adjustable), than those used in crown green.
The first game of a match is started with the 'footer' being placed so that its centre is one metre from the edge of the green and within three metres either side of the 'entrance' to the green. The player who leads out the jack may send it anywhere on the green and plays the first bowl to it, measurement for minimum distance only then being taken on objection, after the first bowl has come to rest.
When an end is completed, the winner of the end places the footer within one metre of where the jack lay (but no nearer to the edge of the green than one metre), and sends out the jack anywhere on the green, measurement for minimum distance as per the previous paragraph.
At the start of a game, the 'mat' is placed lengthwise on the centre line of the rink with its leading edge two metres from the ditch. The jack is then played out along the centre line of the rink and provided it comes to rest on the rink is then centred, and if necessary the distance measured before any bowls are played. Should it stop nearer than two metres from the front ditch, it is placed on the centre line at a distance of two metres from the front ditch.
The winner of an end may place the mat anywhere on the centre line of the rink, but subject to the Laws regarding distance from both back and front ditches.
In both codes of play, should the jack go into the channel/ditch when delivered at the start of an end, it is returned for the opponent to send out. The player who won the last end still retains the right to play the first bowl to it.
If a jack is struck off the green, that end is declared dead. The footer is placed one metre from the edge at the point where the jack left the green, and the player who sent out the jack previously sends it out again to start a new end. The player who last won an end playing the first bowl to it.
Should a bowl be played or driven off the green by another bowl it becomes 'dead'. 'Off the green' also includes a bowl or jack prevented from leaving the green, either by resting against anything at the edge of the green (usually raised turf retaining boards) or in the channel.
A jack struck into the ditch is still 'live' providing it stays within the confines of the rink. If it comes to rest outside the confines of the rink the end is dead.
A bowl which during its normal running has come into contact with the jack on the playing surface is a 'toucher'. Even if this 'toucher' goes or is subsequently driven into the ditch, it is still 'live' if it stays within the confines of the rink.
Any other bowl (a non-toucher) played or driven into the ditch is 'dead', and should be removed.
As Crown Green ends can be played in any direction on a green, there are a number of Laws detailing the course of action to be followed should interference between simultaneous games take place. In Flat Green, each game is normally confined to its own rink, and interference between adjacent games is relatively rare.
If a running jack or bowl is in danger of striking a stationary jack or a bowl belonging to another set, then the running jack or bowl should stopped and returned to be replayed.
If a normally running bowl from one rink is in danger of striking a stationary bowl belonging to an adjacent rink, then the stationary bowl may be lifted and replaced after the running bowl has gone through.
Each of the relevant codes have a number of Laws to deal with the 'accidental' disturbance of a stationary jack or bowl. In general terms, this means disturbance as a result of a bowl wrongly played or a bowl from another end, and external influences such as spectators or stray dogs etc.
This section does not deal with disturbance of jack or bowl by players involved in the end.
If the jack or any bowl is disturbed by a bowl wrongly played, it shall be replaced as near as possible in its original position
If the jack or any bowl is displaced by an external cause, then if the players agree as to the replacement spot, it is replaced and the end continues, otherwise the end is declared void.
If the opposing sides agree to the replacement spot for a disturbed jack then the end carries on, otherwise the end is declared dead.
Disturbed bowls are replaced in their original position by either the opposition or the Marker.
Measuring to determine which bowls count is not allowed in either game until an end is complete. In both games, the measurement is taken between the nearest points of the objects to be measured, any bowls which lie between the jack and the bowl to be measured are removed.
Referees or Measurers are not allowed to touch either jack or bowl while measuring. The B.C.G. Referees Society recommend that the loose end of the measure is first taken to the bowl, and the adjustable end (the body of the measure) is then taken to the jack in accordance with the Laws.
Should a 'leaning' bowl or jack fall when an intervening bowl is removed, then the measurement is taken as the bowl and jack now lie.
Before any measurement, 'leaning' bowls in contention are secured by suitable means to prevent any further movement. The adjustable end of the measure is first taken to the jack and the body rested on the surface of the green. When the rear pointer of the body of the measure is touching the jack, the loose end is then taken to the bowl to be measured.
A new end is started with the footer placed at the position where the jack lay in the dead end. In the case where a jack has been driven into the ditch, the footer is placed one metre from the edge of the green where the jack actually left the green.
A new end is played in the same direction as the dead end, unless both sides agree to play in the opposite direction.